Numbers usually don’t lie, that’s safe to say, but sports stats don’t always tell the whole truth. If you subscribe to the mindset of “check my stats,” you are probably overlooking some key components of the game. While there is a place for a solid stat sheet, there are other components that can be dealbreakers or dealmakers in the eyes of many college coaches.
Body language: What does your posture say about you? I used to sit on the bench and cross one leg over the other. What I thought was simply sitting like a lady was perceived from across the court as an attitude and disinterest in the game. Coaches want to know that players are mentally in tune even if they may not be physically playing. You never know when your name will be called, so it is imperative that you stay engaged. If you ever watch college athletics closely, players don’t walk off the bench and mosey into the game when their number is called, they’re running, or at least jogging.
What type of teammate are you? There isn’t a place on any sports stat sheet that says “dirty work,” but most good teams have a player who is known for dominating that category. Are you willing to sacrifice your body, ego and stats for your team? These players are critical, particularly in basketball — they take charges, set big-time screens, keep the ball alive, get back possessions, all those things that wouldn’t show up on a stat sheet.
“Stats can be very misleading,” cautions Butch McAdams, a 30- year coaching veteran in this area and current high school correspondent for the John Thompson Radio Show. “Don’t tell me how many points you got, how many rebounds you got, I want to know when the points were scored and when the rebound occurred. Some people can just pad stats, they can score after the game as already been decided.”
There is so much more to sports than stats; in fact, it could be argued that chemistry and attitude are just as pivotal as performance. Christy Winters Scott, a former Maryland basketball star who is in the school’s Hall of Fame, knows how harmful a poor attitude can be in the recruiting process for highs school athletes.
“It was my job to go out and find kids. If I found a 30 and 15 kid but they were pouting, going to the end of the bench, didn’t associate with their team or had a scowl on her face during the game they were a tough sell. Yeah, that was a great move but the attitude will not be tolerated [at the collegiate level],” said Winters Scott, recalling the time she spent as an assistant coach at Maryland, Georgetown and George Mason. Winters Scott currently coaches at South Lakes.
“It’s really important to let the high school athlete know what the coaches are looking for outside of stats.”
Even if you are the big time playmaker and go-to player, do you run to help your teammates get up? Are you visibly excited to see your other teammates do well when you are in the game or on the sideline? Are you arguing with officials, coaches or opponents?
The stakes of college athletics are high enough with out adding a volatile or disrespectful individual to a team. Not only are you a flight risk during a game, but you may quickly become an irritant to your new teammates.
If you’re a playmaker: Be well-rounded, don’t let your attitude — something you can control — be the knock against you. If you’re a reserve: Keep it up, your work does not go unnoticed, programs need players just like you. Being on a team is all about knowing your role and embracing it.
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports.
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)
Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)